Sleep Training: The Beginninging

We are on week eight of Lady Jr waking up every 1-2 hours at night. She had one unicorn night where she slept four hours (!!) but we haven’t seen anything close to that since then, despite trying to mimic the variables that (might have) led up to that night. Alas, we’ve had a colder/warmer room, she’s had more/less naps, she’s had more/less stimulating days, she’s had more/less feeds, she’s even been between colds aaaaaand… nope.

If anything, it’s gotten worse. We’ve progressed to a point where she wants nothing to do with cuddles, or with the pacifier, or with soothing, shushing, patting – all she wants is boob. She wakes up and will cry and fuss and cry and flail until she gets it, and then she’s out like a light. Once or twice a night she’ll actually eat. Usually, she doesn’t.

I’m at my wit’s end. I cry most mornings when it’s 4.30, 5am and she hasn’t slept and I haven’t slept and I need to get up and pump and work but then she fusses and fusses and fusses until we all finally give up and get up for the day at 7am. It’s not tenable for her. It’s not tenable for us. I feel like I’m spending 13+ hours a day dealing with her sleep issues and I can’t enjoy those rare times she’s settled for more than 40 min. And the worst part is: I can’t enjoy her.

So.

Right now she goes down for the night at 6.30, 7pm, easy peasy. Her bedtime routine is bath (well, wipe down with cloth), naked time, lotion, boob, book, bed. She’s moved from swaddle to magic merlin suit to just a sleep sack with no difference. She has white noise. We put her in the sleep sack, turn on the white noise, hold her for a moment to make sure she’s sleepy (her eyes will start to close), then put her down, kiss her forehead, and walk out.

Half the time, we’ll need to come back in once or twice to replace her pacifier, soothe and ssh her, but she usually rolls a little, fusses a little, and falls asleep.

Then she starts crying 60-90 minutes later and that’s when the fun begins. That’s when she won’t be soothed by anything but the boob, and this pattern continues every 30-120 minutes for the rest of the night. And that’s what we need to fix.

Right now we don’t let her fuss for more than a few minutes, and we come immediately if she outright cries. We’ve tried waiting sometimes, but nothing consistent and usually no more than a minute or two.

But we’re going to try a gentler Ferber method. For us, that means gradually lengthening check in periods and letting her cry a little longer. And then sticking to it. I think the most important thing is that we’re consistent, not matter which method we choose. We’re going to start with 2-3min and go from there, based on how badly/well she does. Mostly, need it so that I don’t go in when she’s just fussing. If she takes it especially poorly, we’ll stay in the room with her.

The hardest part will be the night wakings, since we room share. It looks like we’re going to try fading for those (i.e. less and less holding, patting, shushing, boobing) and try to avoid using the boob for a little longer each night until she’s can go at least 3 hours without it. Maybe 4 if she seems like she’s doing well.

Also Dr Lady is going out of town for a conference, which may help – or may not. At least I won’t worry about depriving her of sleep while letting Lady Jr cry for a minute or two in the middle of the night.

Overall, I read somewhere to think of it more as sleep teaching than sleep training, and I like that framing better. Teaching means giving her the time and space to figure it out on her own, but also providing guidance as needed. She has all the tools she needs to do this – she can roll, she can suck her thumb, we’ve observed her put herself to sleep multiple times – she just needs to put it all together.

We can do this. She can do this.

…we just might need a lot of coffee in the meantime.

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14 Comments

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14 responses to “Sleep Training: The Beginninging

  1. Amy

    Good luck! You’ve been such a trooper for so long and you all deserve to figure this out and get a solid night of sleep…. We’re in this with you ad we try to get Avery to sleep in the crib at night. So far not so good. If there’s ONE thing making me not want a second child, it’s the knowledge of the sleep deprivation.

    • I know right?? Every time I think about a second kid, I then factor in the additional sleep dep that would come from a young child + a newborn and I just can’t even fathom.

  2. shawnsorcade

    Awe I’m so sorry! I hope this works for you. I totally get it. I’m still traumatized from ev and her shitty sleep and nursing literally all night. We’ve been struggling with this latest baby in deciding on feeding method. I’m kind of wanting to formula feed off the bat because I hated nursing all night and Abe is so much easier at night and he’s formula fed. It probably has nothing to do with it but I feel like it might. I know that doesn’t help you but I just want you to know I totally understand. I wanted to sleep train at many points although Cade was never comfortable with it so we didn’t but I’ve been at that point!

    • I’m still struggling with being comfortable with it, but I keep thinking about how she doesn’t really sleep at daycare and now she’s sleeping terribly at night, and I can’t imagine that’s good for her. By helping her learn how to sleep on her own for night, it just might help her sleep at daycare, too.
      And yeah, my sanity’s at stake too I guess. 🙂

      • shawnsorcade

        That’s what I was feeling. It can’t possibly be good for them to run on 45 min intervals. Like they really should get a longer stretch for some complete sleep cycles. I really would have done it and I’m so happy for you you have the support to pursue it. Hope you function normally again asap

  3. So, the conference is going to make this advice useless, but we had much more luck with sleep training when I (the parent who smelled of milk) didn’t go near the Bear at night unless I intended to feed her. I know it’s hard, because you want to take equal brunt of the parenting hardships, but I really think it’ll be easier for Lady Jr to learn to soothe herself if only Dr Lady goes in at night and she learns that milk just isn’t an option at that hour.

    • I think if we get to the point where we have to put her in another room (alas, my office, I knew you well), we’re definitely going this route.

  4. No advice, just solidarity. You know I’ve been there–over and over and over again. It sucks (understatement!), and some days I don’t even know how I’m still both alive and gainfully employed.

  5. Good luck! When I sleep trained, it helped me to keep in mind that if I wasn’t getting any sleep, that means the baby isn’t either, and there are things physiologically and emotionally that only happen when one sleeps. It’s tough, but once you’re on the other side of it both of you will be happier 🙂

    • That’s actually one of the main reasons we’ve decided to go ahead with this. She’s not sleeping well at daycare and that compounded with not sleeping well at home just can’t be good for her.

  6. We live in that world of frequent night stirrings (she doesn’t really seem to wake up) so that she can get my nipple back in her mouth. Like your babe, she doesn’t often EAT…she just wants the comfort. Because I can naturally operate on so little sleep, we’ve just been going with it. The bigger problem for me at this point is my aching back from staying in juuuuust the right position for her. I don’t have the guts to sleep teach yet, but if I hit the breaking point, I’ll be following your lead!

    • Yeah, she has a mix between waking up and just stirring, but it seems like it’s been leaning more and more towards waking up.
      I’ve been able to go for a while without much sleep, but it’s a razor thin edge between okay and really & completely not okay.
      I hope to have some good advice by the end of this…

  7. Lady, we had a trooper for the most part with sleep and we STILL sleep trained the Beast. Working FT with infant and no sleep and what turned out to be over a year of ppd meant no sleep wasn’t an option, and she still follows the sleep routine we set as a baby (she just complains about it using words, heh). ❤

    You do what is best for your family and kiddo, and no sleep isn't good for anyone. I'm available for texts and shoulders to cry on whenever you need me.

    • Yeah, I have to keep reminding myself that this is so I can also function with work.
      We’ll see how tonight goes… I may have to text frequently ❤

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